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Protest at the Southwest Museum, its Future More Uncertain

by Ross Plesset Friday, Feb. 05, 2010 at 11:13 PM

The demonstration on Wednesday afternoon was well-attended and occurred on Marmion Way, just outside the museum grounds and adjacent to the Gold Line's Southwest Museum Station. Thus, many rush hour commuters, whether they were in cars or trains, could see the event.

Protest at the South...
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After indicating that the Southwest Museum would fully reopen, the Autry, which owns the facility, recently closed the museum store and discontinued the monthly NELA Art Gallery Walk. Also, various community events, which had been free, are now $10 for non-Autry members.

Recent examples of these community events include last summer's four-part film series: Alcatraz is Not an Island, Standing Silent Nation, March Point, PowWow Highway, and a number of shorts by Native American film students. (The shorts were produced and shown vis-a-vis the Southern California Indian Center's Creative Spirit Program.) Also, this past fall there was a free lecture by Dr. Paul Apodaca about depictions of Native Americans in movies from the silent era to the present.

These types of free events are still happening—but at the Autry's facilities in Griffith Park (see: http://theautry.org/programs/film).

Autry closed the exhibit space in 2006 to allow for some earthquake retrofitting (which was completed last summer). The gift shop closed in December '09 to afford the Autry temporary storage space for its bead collection, which is in queue for restoration and conservation. (Previous coverage of the museum closure on LA IndyMedia can be found here: http://la.indymedia.org/news/2007/02/193784.php and here: http://la.indymedia.org/news/2008/01/213072.php.)

There had been plans, and state money allocated, for waterproofing the museum's tunnel-entrance so that the dioramas could be reinstalled. However, according to the Autry, this has been postponed indefinitely. Due to the global recession, the Autry says that it must use its matching funds elsewhere. Furthermore, “[f]or the moment and for the foreseeable future, the Autry must postpone making further capital investments there.” (Full statement from the Autry: http://www.friendsofthesouthwestmuseum.com/GrayReturnsFunds090809.html).

Nicole Possert, co- chair of the Friends of the Southwest Museum Coalition, expressed suspicion about the timing of this decision, which she said happened near the closure of the store as well as Autry withdrawing its plans for a new museum in Griffith Park, which would have housed much of the inventory now at the Southwest Museum.

The demonstration on Wednesday afternoon was well-attended and occurred on Marmion Way, just outside the museum grounds and adjacent to the Gold Line's Southwest Museum Station. Thus, many rush hour commuters, whether they were in cars or trains, could see the event.

Possert expressed cautious optimism about the future. “The Friends of the Southwest Museum Coalition has been working with Councilman Jose Huizar on a funding package that he has put together with the city: a whole host of options that Autry could access and tap into. So Councilman Huizar met with the Autry in January (last month), and we're waiting for the Autry board to get back to the councilmember after that discussion. [M]aybe what the councilman put has forward, which is a really generous package, will be the solution to getting the Southwest Museum reopened as, in Huizar's words, 'a fully-functioning museum.' That's a change for him.”

The Coalition has various suggestions for how people can help: http://www.friendsofthesouthwestmuseum.com/take.html.

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Demonstrators at the Gold Line train station

by Ross Plesset Friday, Feb. 05, 2010 at 11:13 PM

Demonstrators at the...
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Demonstrators holding signs at passing train

by Ross Plesset Friday, Feb. 05, 2010 at 11:13 PM

Demonstrators holdin...
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Another demonstrator facing the trains

by Ross Plesset Friday, Feb. 05, 2010 at 11:13 PM

Another demonstrator...
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Calling for the Southwest Museum to reopen

by Ross Plesset Friday, Feb. 05, 2010 at 11:13 PM

Calling for the Sout...
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Demonstrator facing street traffic

by Ross Plesset Friday, Feb. 05, 2010 at 11:13 PM

Demonstrator facing ...
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Another unhappy neighbor of the museum

by Ross Plesset Friday, Feb. 05, 2010 at 11:13 PM

Another unhappy neig...
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Another community member wants the museum back

by Ross Plesset Friday, Feb. 05, 2010 at 11:13 PM

Another community me...
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Another community member wants the museum back

by Ross Plesset Friday, Feb. 05, 2010 at 11:13 PM

Another community me...
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More upset community members

by Ross Plesset Friday, Feb. 05, 2010 at 11:13 PM

More upset community...
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